The traditional audit experience for taxpayers large and small has, like many things, been impacted by COVID-19. Taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have been forced to navigate audits in a remote environment, causing issues related to exchanging documents, engaging in discussions and even filing tax returns and other documents. The IRS has worked hard to adjust to the pandemic and made significant strides in maintaining an efficient audit process.
The key to a well-organized and just audit process is communication between taxpayers and the IRS. In a welcome development, the IRS Large Business & International (LB&I) Division recently announced that effective October 18, 2021 (and expiring October 18, 2023), IRS employees must grant an LB&I taxpayer’s request for a video meeting in lieu of an in-person or telephone discussion. The video meeting must be through IRS-approved solutions, which is currently WebEx and ZoomGov with a future phase-in of Microsoft Teams planned. Screen sharing is permitted but files may not be transferred on these platforms.
Additionally, the IRS has been offering the Taxpayer Digital Communications (TDC) secure messaging system as another communication method. The TDC system avoids the need to send documents to the IRS via facsimile and allows the transfer of files of up to one gigabyte in a secure messaging environment. The IRS is also working with corporate taxpayers on third-party virtual reading rooms that permit IRS employees to review documents without downloading them.
Practice Point: The use of video meetings and the TDC system are two ways that the IRS and taxpayers can continue to communicate effectively and efficiently in a remote working environment. The IRS is continuing to roll out new programs and initiatives in this area and the McDermott tax team will continue to provide updates as they become available.